CINCINNATI – Cowan’s April 16 Native American Art auction achieved a price of $997,265, beating its presale estimate by more than $250,000. The sale offered a wide selection of Native art and artifacts from every region of North America and spanning prehistory through the 19th century.
“It was great to see the market remain strong after a surprisingly robust 2020,” said Danica Farnand, Cowan’s Senior Specialist and Director of Native American Art. “It just goes to show that there is a growing interest in these remarkable pieces and I am so happy to see them going to places I know they will be truly appreciated.”
Highlighting the auction was an Edith Claymore (Miniconjou, 1858-1910) attributed Cheyenne River pictorial tobacco bag that sold for $100,000 against a presale estimate of $40,000-$60,000. The 34in bag was made of sinew-sewn, softly tanned deer hide and featured beadwork in colors of red white-heart, light and dark blue, pea green, greasy yellow, and white.
“What separated this bag from a very nice tobacco bag to a six-figure tobacco bag was the incredible pictorial elements,” said Farnand. “The exquisite detail on the figures of the buck, doe, and two warriors demonstrates an otherworldly level of artistry that collectors could not resist.”
From the Pacific Northwest, a Tsimshian carved soul catcher beat its estimate of $40,000-$60,000 to sell for $68,750. Carved of bone, the soul catcher depicts two open-mouthed wolves separated by a central human figure. Already a rare figure, this particular example was a very early example of the form, dating to the turn of the 19th century.
In the textile category, Zuni classic period embroidered manta was the top lot, selling for $34,375 and beating its presale estimate of $20,000-$30,000. At first glance, this manta may appear to be a fairly typical example of the era, but a closer inspection reveals a remarkable indigo embroidery of a swallowtail butterfly, diamond elements, and accents of tulips that could only have been achieved by a master embroiderer.
Other highlights from the auction included an Otoe ball club which sold for $25,000; a Chilkat horn feast ladle, collected by Captain Michael A. Healy, which sold for more than four times its estimate to achieve the price of $21,250; and a set of Apache painted rawhide playing cards that sold for $16,250, nearly tripling their estimate.
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